Aden- U.N. Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed kicked off a new regional tour on Saturday to revive the frozen Yemeni peace talks.
Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the U.N. envoy should be expecting hard negotiations with the rebel delegation, currently present in Oman, particularly when tackling two subjects: the restart of peace talks and an agreement on a new truce to stop the fighting.
The already frozen negotiations to end 18 months of fighting in Yemen collapsed last month in Kuwait and Houthi militias there resumed shelling attacks into Saudi Arabia.
Fighting in Yemen started in 2004 when President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi was sent into exile, after former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and his Houthi supporters seized the capital city of Sana’a. Another source close to the rebel delegation asserted to Asharq Al-Awsat that the delegation has been rejecting a meeting with Ould Cheikh since he arrived to Oman, where the rebel delegation is staying after it left Kuwait last month.
The delegation is stuck in Muscat after the international collation had closed the Sana’a international airport, expect for flights carrying humanitarian aids.
The source said the delegation would sit with Ould Cheikh on two main conditions: their return to Sana’a to consult with Houthi leaders, and the lift of airspace restrictions imposed on the capital.
The source quoted a member of the rebel delegation as saying: “We want to speak with our leadership and he (Ould Cheikh) won’t allow us.”
But, observers say that Houthi rebels would end up meeting with the U.N. envoy.
Yemeni political activist Baleegh Al-Mekhlafi told Asharq Al-Awsat that the U.S. was determined to hold a new round of Yemeni talks, expected in Oslo and that under military pressure, Houthis and Saleh will end up, as usual, meeting with the U.N. envoy to revive the peace process.
Commenting on the situation of the Yemeni rebels, Najeeb Ghallab, head of Aljazeera Alarabiyah Center for Studies and Research forum told Asharq Al-Awsat that the group is currently facing two choices after peace talks failed in Kuwait last month: Either they continue the war or they accept the U.N. vision to end the crisis. “The more they fail to accept the U.N. conditions, they more they lose,” Gholab said.
Ould Cheikh’s new regional tour comes as fighting escalates between warring parties. Yemen’s National Army and the Popular Resistance forces succeeded on Saturday to move the battle to areas extremely close to the capital after they had controlled the majority of mountains and hills in the Nihm district.